With Mirror's Edge and Star Wars: Battlefront on their plate even a studio as big as DICE would have struggled to put out another Battlefield title in time for those demanding so-and-sos at EA. Enter Dead Space developers Visceral Games, who for their take on the franchise have elected to make a game about law enforcement and law breaking rather than large-scale military combat.
It is something of a bold move but as many found out during June's public beta, this is still classic Battlefield. The beta was solid but somewhat insubstantial, not necessarily in terms of what was on offer but because of how little had changed.
Hardline felt more like a dressed up expansion pack for Battlefield 4 than a fully-fledged game of its own. However the game's recent delay has given Visceral more time to ease those fears, and at Gamescom they went all out to show off what will be different about their Battlefield.
Multiplayer will always be at the core of this series, so during a behind-closed-doors presentation Visceral led with details of two new modes. Firstly, there was Rescue, a 5-on-5 small scale game type about defending and rescuing hostages which Visceral hopes will find a place in the e-sports market.
Then came Hotwire, available to play on the show floor and sees players fighting over vehicles across the map, which replace the traditional flags. Hop in one of the vehicles and the waypoint is yours, draining the enemy of points. Leaving the vehicle resets it to neutral and destroying one spawns a new vehicle elsewhere on the map.
Having played Hotwire on the show floor I was not impressed. I found that the whole objective was muddled, making what the player was supposed to be doing actually the least fun thing to do. Driving around a map ad nauseam and avoiding enemies simply isn't as fun as the gunplay you've bought the game for. You'll want to leave the vehicle behind, but that comes at the expense of your team's chances of victory.
Despite this ill-feeling – which could well be remedied by playing it more - it is at least good to see that Visceral are trying to mix things up with Battlefield: Hardline, and that's no more evident than in their single player.
Battlefield has always been about multiplayer first and foremost in much the same way as its rival Call of Duty, but compare their single player campaigns and it's the latter which always comes out on top. Aware of this, Visceral has put a great focus on Hardline's single player, hoping to present a story that will at the very least tempt players who may once have ignored it.
Where Call of Duty targets a blockbuster Hollywood feel, Battlefield this time round is looking to television to set its pace. Each of the game's missions - or episodes - will be roughly forty minutes-long and share a number of core characters, with players taking control of lead Nick Mendozza, an officer of the law who treads a fine line between good and bad cop.
The gameplay demo we witnessed was irritatingly cliché with lots of slow movement and atmospheric surveillances early on, which of course no player actually ever does. That said, there were good points after this, when Mendoza found himself looking over an enemy compound.
Not far removed from the outposts of Far Cry 3, just on a larger scale, there were multiple methods of approach which can be boiled down to the quiet way and the loud way. Going in loud is as you'd expect, but the quieter way was more than it first appeared, with players actually rewarded for not killing people. Being a police officer you have the ability to arrest enemies, earning bigger rewards, which requires you to quietly approach the enemy before pulling your badge and cuffing them.
This is particularly rewarding when targeting an enemy with a bounty on his head. To find these bounties you'll need to look over the compound and tag enemies – again, much like Far Cry 3 - revealing a warrant.
What Visceral have realised is that for Battlefield single player to succeed, it needs to be more than a series of firefights trying to emulate a multiplayer aspect which can't be recreated with AI. In offering something different, if not ground-breaking, Visceral may have found the way for Battlefield's single player to at least be worth a look - a considerable improvement.
More so than ever Battlefield: Hardline is looking like a game which can stand on its own two feet. The extra development time afforded to it by the recent delay is also cause for renewed hope in the game which could end up being a neat and nifty package for shooter fans when it is released next year.